March 11th, 2015

Dead Dog Cat


As you all have plainly seen, I like to read the Osprey series of books, but honestly they are moderately inconsistent. Many are excellent, most are good, a few are weak.

Last night I finished reading Osprey Warrior #22: Imperial Guardsman 1799 - 1815 which deals with the French Imperial Guard of the Napoleonic Wars, and what a complex subject! I felt that the book walked me through it with just enough detail to keep it interesting, while not giving me the feeling that they'd taken out too much. I liked the book very much.

Book 7- Hidden like Anne Frank

7. Hidden Like Anne Frank, by Marcel Prins and Peter Henk Steenhuis. This book gives 14 first-hand accounts from adults who, as children or teens, were forced to go into hiding when Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands. Most were in hiding for at least two years, moved from place to place by the country's active resistance members. The book is aimed at readers 12 and older; the narratives strike a balance between conveying the horrors of what these individuals went through and the often bittersweet (at best) followup without getting too graphic. This would be a good companion novel to The Diary of Anne Frank; an interesting note is that one of the contributors saw Anne and her sister Margot at Auschwitz and recalled going to school with them. These children and teens, and their families, were often moved multiple times to try to keep ahead of the Germans and the NSB. One boy was moved more than 40 times. There are stories of bravery, of betrayal, of loss and reunited- but with a different reality. The stories include information about life afterwards, and several of the narrators talked about how the Hunger Winter and the War, the splitting up of families and the constant uncertainty and fear led to permanent fissures in the family - emotional and physical. It's a beautifully told compilation of personal accounts that should interest both younger and older readers.

Currently reading: Sin in the Second City, by Karen Abbott.
Briana and Aunty Tara

Books 25 & 26 - 2014

Book 25: My Point…and I Do Have One by Ellen DeGeneres – 211 pages

Description from
In this #1 New York Times bestseller, Ellen DeGeneres shares her hilarious take on everything from our most baffling human foibles-including how we behave in elevators, airplanes, and restrooms, and why we're so scared of the boogeyman-to fashion trends, celebrity, and her secret recipe for Ellen's Real Frenchy French Toast. Most of all, this witty, engaging book offers insights into the mind of one of America's most beloved comics.... "Dear Reader, I was awfully excited when I was asked to write a book. I was however, nervous. I was afraid I didn't have anything important to say. But when I began writing, I realized that although I don't know a lot about any one thing, I know a little about a whole bunch of things: baking a pie; dancing; curing the common cold; running the Iditarod-it's all in the book. And I realized I notice things that maybe some people don't notice (or they don't notice that they don't notice). That's all in the book, too."

Ellen’s show airs during the day sometimes in Australia and I think she’s just hilarious. I picked up this book at a bi-annual book fair conducted by my local Rotary club (so it cost me two dollars!). I was rather disappointed by this book. It’s not not funny, but its not anywhere near as funny as Ellen is on her show. I’m just not sure if her humour is too dependent on visuals and that’s why, or its just the irreverence of the stories went over my head, or its an Australian versus American humour thing, but I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I was hoping. It’s also rather old now (I think it was written in the nineties) so it’s a bit dated which might have led to some of the issues. I would still like to read some of her later books, but this one wasn’t really a winner. A shame.

25 / 50 books. 50% done!

8839 / 15000 pages. 59% done!

Book 26: The Sexual Paradox: Troubled Boys, Gifted Girls and the Real Difference between the Sexes by Susan Pinker – 308 pages

Description from
Why do girls do increasingly well at school, yet men still dominate senior positions in adult life? In this provocative and original book, Susan Pinker examines how fundamental gender differences play out at school and at work. In "The Sexual Paradox", psychologist Susan Pinker explores the latest findings of the science of sex differences. Comparing the lives of promising schoolgirls who later opt out of successful careers with those of troubled schoolboys who go on to achieve highly in the workplace, she argues that our biology can shed important new light on the 'gender gap'. Men and women are significantly different - we need to recognize these paradoxical differences, not punish them or legislate against them, if we are to make progress. "The Sexual Paradox" sheds important - and controversial - new light on a perennial debate.

This is a really valuable book, and one that I related to immensely. I’m one of those stereotypical ‘career’ girls. Straight out of high school, I started a double bachelors degree in accounting and sociology, and fast tracked it by doing summer school three years in a row. Seven months before I finished I secured a job with a Big 4 accounting firm. Six years of crazy hours and a secondment to the UK, and I quit to take up a job with a major university in my city. Ten months later and after starting my Masters, and I’m about to apply for a job that will see me the Finance Manager for Science and Technology faculty, if I get it. When I left the Big 4 job, I got asked to stay because they considered me ‘partner’ material. And I knew I could get there, but the idea of doing the same thing every day, even if it made me an expert, bored the crap out of me. I went from being an auditor to a management accountant, because I have a compulsion to seek out new skills. I went from public accounting to education, because I needed to do something different and expand myself. Why am I telling you this? Because reading this book helped me understand (to an extent) why I had made these decisions, and why I often make different decisions from men in similar situations. Pinker puts forward a few ideas. Firstly, that women are not the CEOs etc of the world, not because they aren’t smart enough, or don’t have access to education (in fact in many countries women studying all the way up to postgrad outstrip men in many fields), but because they simply don’t want to. They want to spend more time with their children, or do jobs that they feel are more meaningful or contribute more to society, or try new things. Men, on the other hand, due to brain wiring, appear better able to focus on one topic and become experts in it, to slog away at the same thing or the end goal of CEO or President or whatever, and get to the upper echelons of business etc. This attribute, according to Pinker also explains why things such as autism etc are more prevalent in men then women. This is just one of Pinker’s theories within this book, but chapter after chapter, I unmasked more about myself, my gender, and why I often make the decisions I do. Obviously not everything will apply to every woman or every man – we are all different – but generalisations are called as such because they do ‘generally’ apply and I can see that in this book. I read a lot on gender studies (I have started to recognize names of writers and academics across the field – scary) and this book was definitely in my top five of the field. A very fascinating read I highly recommend.

26 / 50 books. 52% done!

9147 / 15000 pages. 61% done!

Currently reading:
-        Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton – 596 pages
-        Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics by Paul Street – 272 pages
-        A Series of Unfortunate Events: Book the Twelfth: The Penultimate Peril by Lemony Snicket – 353 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages

Book #14: The First Easter, retold by Sally Anne Wright

Children's book that I read before passing on to some Christian parents at the advice of a friend.

This is a very short book and is written in a way that is understandable to children, covering briefly the story of Jesus and the crucifixion and also the ministry of the disciples, charmingly illustrated.

I had some mixed feelings about this book, but mostly it was okay and seemed okay to read to kids. The story of the crucifixion seemed to be given very little time, and not surprisingly, all of the graphic details were watered down, but it still seemed a bit weird that the main Easter story was made to seem so minor, and it didn't really explain the purpose of Jesus' sacrifice.

Other than this, my only complaint was that it did not explain that Saul changed his name to Paul, making the last few sections a bit confusing for anyone who didn't know that.

Overall, a good way to get young kids into understanding the Easter story, but at the same time, not the best.

Next book: Little Lord Fauntleroy (Frances Hodgson Burnett)